Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mutant Chronicles: Modern B-Movie Archetype?

The world of cinema changed dramatically in the wake of the force of nature known as Roger Corman, that much is certain. He was the snowball which gathered flakes during his downhill charge, destined to smash convention as an unstoppable landslide of change. B-Movies underwent an irrevocable shift once major studios realized that they could couple the simple, campy plots from small budget pictures with gaudy, over sized budgets. Bruce Campbell argues in his first book, If Chins Could Kill (which you really should read!), that most of the major blockbusters of today are just gussied up B-Movies with money behind them. Independence Day. Transformers. The Happening. Give it a ponder.

This still contains more happenings than The Happening

Meanwhile back on Earth (more specifically on the Ikea couch in my basement, huddled under a handful of blankets with a cat keeping me company) I was winding down the last of my holiday vacation with gray matter relaxing Sunday morning fare on the Polish Syphilis SyFy SciFi channel. When what to my wandering eyes should appear, but something called Mutant Chronicles staring some guys named Thomas Jane and Ron Pearlman. I'll admit that I'm an enormous sucker for celluloid adventures which featuring Mr. Pearlman and Thomas Jane knocked it out of the park in the under appreciated 2004 Punisher adaption.

Mutant Chronicles is a fascinating venture in the digital filming style made famous by Robert Rodriguez with his adaption of Frank Miller's Sin City. Despite a smaller budget overall budget, the effects are exceptionally realized here, screaming that there was vision and style to spare. While the characters are somewhat flat, they manage to fill all of the standard tropes of a group of mercenaries while at the same time injecting just enough personality for there to be clashes within the group. Witty banter aplenty.

If you're unfamiliar with the pen and paper game on which the movie's based, don't worry! Any casual Internet search on the matter will punish you with the sweat and bile of self loathing Internet nerds, sperging over their keyboard the collected sum of all their disappointment that this film takes liberties with the cherished source material in the name of making an entertain romp. I suggest you treat them like all the women in their lives do: with pity and careful avoidance, one hand on the mace in their purse if proximity is considered 'Danger Close'.

Giant Maglights come as standard equipment in 2707

Mutant Chronicles (the film) paddles the stream of time to the year 2707, on an Earth where nearly all natural resources have been depleted and over which four mega corporations wage perpetual war. It is during one of these battles, which resemble a mix of world war one trench combat with steam powered ships, that a great seal is broken. This ancient symbol confined within it a vast machine, which crashed to Earth during the Ice Age. From the machine spring monstrously mutated men with a massive biological spikes for hands. These they use to maim and kill, then drag their conquests to the core of the machine, which in turn transforms these unlucky meat sacks into more killing engines.

Much as with zombies, each casualty replenishes the enemies ranks. Soon the rich and lucky are chartering every available craft to the safety of Mars, leaving billions to the meat grinder. Enter Brother Samuel (Pearlman), a holy man cut from the cloth of an ancient sect. He protect a books with the secret to stopping the horror threatening to engulf the entire planet. Samuel recruits a varied team of mercenaries to deliver a bomb into the heart of the machine, thus ending the doom-come-apocalypse. The action takes us down into the ancient underground ruins of our current world (upon which the world of 2707 is built), below which the fate of the planet is to be decided.

Mutant Chronicles: Helmet piercingly erect

This isn't an amazing film that will kick your ass six ways from Sunday with it's awesome-osity. When you get down to brass tacks though, it's an entertaining, modern day B movie, delivering up exactly what genre fans should have already come to expect from a monster/zombie-retro/future/steampunk-action/adventure flick. If you can't have fun chilling with this lazy Sunday afternoon affair then it's entirely possible that you take the Internez (and their related serious business) far to seriously. Relax and check out something off the wall. Perhaps Mutant Chronicles?

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